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Snapshot of Hungary – About 52% of Hungary’s population is Christian, with most of the Christian population belonging to the Roman Catholic or Calvinist churches. Like in many other European nations, irreligion has been steadily increasing. Thermal spas are quite popular in Hungary and are found across the country.
Other parts of traditional culture that can still be seen are certain folk dances. Folk and classical music continue to be influential in Hungary, though popular styles such as rock, hip hop, and electronic music are more popular. Another unique aspect of Hungary are the country’s special breeds of domestic animals, particularly dogs. Soccer and water sports such as water polo are quite popular. Lunch is generally the most important meal of the day in Hungary, and is often served in multiple courses. Appetizers are served, followed by a soup and then by the main course. Hungarian cuisine features many kinds of stews, casseroles, and roasted meat. Paprika is frequently used in Hungarian dishes. Bread is usually purchased fresh from local bakeries. Goulash (a meat, noodle, and vegetable stew), Hungarian sausages, and Stefánia szelet (a Hungarian meatloaf) are popular meals. Palacsinta (similar to crepes) and other types of desserts and pastries are also popular.
There is one stake and one mission in Hungary. There are 4,940 members in Hungary. This is very small percentage in a large country. However, the wards in Budapest are very strong and the other branches and wards are growing. The mission was created in 1990 only two years after the first meeting house was dedicated.
Hungary has influences from many different countries such as Germany, France, Slavic countries, and Austria. Hungarians use the spice paprika generously in many of their dishes. Popular dishes include Goulash (a tasty stew), Halaszle (a fish soup), and Chicken Paprikash (a stew with a lot of sweet paprika and a sour cream). Wonderful treat also come from the many bakeries that you can find in Hungary. Be sure to try the different types of breads.
You will be using the public transit system a lot throughout your mission. Be prepared to do a lot of walking, and make sure that your shoes will be comfortable throughout the day. In some areas you may have a bike, but these are limited (one area for sisters and a few others for elders)
Hungarians are very friendly, there are not a lot of safety concerns, but missionaries are cautioned to be wise. It is common for sisters not to talk to people after dark, instead setting up appointments for those hours.
A common greeting for friends is to give a little kiss (puszi) on each cheek. Although sisters will shake men’s hands only. You will remove your shoes when you enter someone’s home, and usually there will be slippers for you to wear while indoors.
Szia – Hi (casual)
Szerbusz – Hello (formal)
Scarves, coats, and layering items will be essential during those cold winter months. Hungarians love to see photos of your family, so a photo album will be quite nice to have.
Shipping info: All mail is sent to the mission home and is usually dropped off when senior couples, zone leaders, or the mission president comes to a missionary’s area. Missionaries can also pick up mail when they visit Budapest. Email is usually the fastest way to communicate.
Hajnóczy József Utca 14
Straight from the Hungary Budapest Mission:
What is the craziest thing you ate?
Fish soup—which includes many different types of fish
Poppy seed laden pastries. (thought it was chocolate, but it turned out to be poppy seeds), pasta with poppy seeds.
What was most surprising about the culture?
Hungarians are generous and will feed you, offer you a place to stay, even when they barely know you.
What advice would you give to someone going to the Hungary Budapest Mission?
Have an open mind and heart, whatever happens love it; work your hardest and miracles will happen. If you have a good attitude, you’ll love it.
*Did you serve in the Hungary Budapest Mission? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share you experiences with those called to your mission!